Lenovo makes some fantastic computers, but it isn’t a leader in quality tablet design. It’s high-end IdeaPad devices do well, but we’ve never seen a Lenovo Android slate that impressed us. This could change. Earlier today, Lenovo showed off its first Yoga Tablet, and it has a built-in kickstand. Running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean (Android 4.3 came out earlier this summer), the new 8-inch and 10-inch Yogas hope to appeal to everyone who likes to prop their tablet up.
While most tablets try to be as thin as possible, Lenovo has decided not to play that game. Borrowing some inspiration from Sony’s old Xperia S tablets, the Yoga Tablet has a thick cylinder on the bottom/side (depending on which way you like to hold), which is supposed to make it easier to grip for reading, like the bent cover of a magazine. Lenovo calls this “Hold” mode. The cylinder also has a built-in kickstand, which is adjustable and can prop the screen straight up for movies, or hold it up at a slight angle – good if you’re typing on a surface.
Underneath the hood, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that these tablets have the performance of a Nexus 7 – last year’s Nexus 7. Both the 8 and 10-inch models have a 1.2GHz quad-core MTK 8125 processor (not the best), 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 1280x 800 pixel LCD screens, 5-megapixel rear cameras, and 1.6-megapixel front cameras. The good news is that the battery life may be far better than almost any other tablets. The 8-inch model has a 6000mAh battery and the 10-inch has a 9000mAh. Most tablets get about 8-10 hours of life, but Lenovo is claiming 13 – 21 hours, depending on how bright you have the screen. We’d lean toward 13 hours, but that is a huge improvement over even the iPad Air or Mini. This battery life doesn’t come at the expense of weight either. The 8-inch model is only .88lbs and the 10-inch is 1.33lbs.
So if you like battery life and built-in kickstands, you may want to consider a Yoga Tablet. We’ll have a full review later this week. In our first few moments with the tablets, we think that they are comfortable to hold and really like the kickstand cylinder that Lenovo has added, but the Android interface appears to try too hard to look like the iPad (rounded square app icons, no Android app list) and just doesn’t look good. It’s a little buggy, too. But these are mostly problems that a good launcher (like Nova) can fix.
As always, it may come down to price, and Lenovo is competitive. The 8-inch Yoga Tablet is $250 and the 10-inch is $300. You can still get a more powerful Kindle Fire or Nexus 7 for $230, but other competitors are more expensive. The low-end iPad Mini is $300; the high-end Retina iPad Mini is $400, and the LG G-Pad 8.3 is $350. But for big 10-inch tablets, Lenovo has a good edge. Almost everything good is $100 – $200 more expensive than the larger Yoga Tablet. Both sizes can be found at Lenovo.com and Best Buy stores starting Oct. 30. An optional, attachable keyboard cover is available for $70 more.